FAMILY ECONOMY// 11. 1992. • HASIB SALKIC// SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE LIBERAL PARTY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Secretary general of the Liberal Party
‘By then all the provision in stores had been exhausted, they had been either plundered or stored somewhere where somebody thought they should be stored. Either with the police or with the army of the armed groups. And I think that already a mechanism of struggle for survival had been established, a mechanism probably completely unknown to economy. A chain was established in which it was best to be a member of an extended family, which consisted of those who were on work detail, in the police, in the army. One could survive only within such a family by some kind of barter, trade, black market. Namely those in the police or in the army were getting some cigarettes, and they could be traded for something else.’
• In order for Sarajevans to join organized convoys that after a long delay have begun to leave the city, one needs to receive consent from the Sarajevo police, UN approval and consent from the Bosnian Serbs.
• Stjepan Kljujic, the BiH Presidency’s Croat member is forced to resign at the request of the HDZ, in favor of Miro Lasic, their new candidate.
• Sefer Halilovic, commander of the BiH Armed Forces, prohibits the departure of the convoy, but Pero Butigan, director of the Red Cross, insists that they are required to transport citizens. In the end, both convoys, one headed for Split and the other for Belgrade, manage to leave.
• Director Paul Masic makes the animated film "Coffee".
• "Sipad holding,” a factory for processing wood and producing furniture, possesses stores of wood that could be used for heating, but the question remains how it can be brought into Sarajevo. Wood shipments are stalled in Fojnica, Tarcin, Konjic ... all cities surrounding Sarajevo.
• Geneva, November 7th, 1992. In Geneva, during a conference on Bosnia, Radovan Karadzic, says that due to pressure from the international community for now he will abandon the request for a separate state, but he still holds requirements for great autonomy and the division of BiH into five areas. Haris Silajdzic demands the opening of a road corridor from Ploce - Mostar - Sarajevo
• A convoy of Sarajevo Slovenes, organized by the Association of Slovenes and the Slovenian government, leaves Sarajevo for Slovenia.
• UNPROFOR and the utility company 'Rad' undertake cleaning and the removal of a huge number of damaged vehicles from the street.
• The wounded wait to leave the city.
• A Hollywood team visits the editorial office of "Oslobodjenje," which operates in the basements of their completely destroyed headquarters situated on the front line of the city
• UNPROFOR receives a decision of the UN from Geneva stating that the official political and economic delegations from Sarajevo can use transport aircraft used to deliver humanitarian aid.
• The UNHCR advises Sarajevans to eat packed lunches from humanitarian aid every 6-7 days.
• The Post Office reconnects 30,000 phone lines just for priority cases, and only for local communication, as the connections to outside countries have been cut.
• The District Military Prosecutor's Office conducts an investigation of former UNPROFOR commander Louis Mackenzie
• In the city, banks are being established.
Abundance and color, choice and liveliness are gone from the markets of Sarajevo. There one can see poverty at its worst. Merchandise from all the tables can fit into two nylon bags. All the famous markets - Markale, Ciglane, Hepok, Alipasino polje - are now more like meeting points. Fruit and vegetables have been reduced to some scallions, nettles, cabbage, zucchini, small, rotting apples, green plums. All in small quantities, and all in DMs. During the fall you could find some pumpkins, potatoes from the humanitarian aid, nuts. The entire offer from any of the markets wasn’t more than 20 kilos.
What you can also find on these markets are soaps, matches, lighters, pepper, cotton, old shoes, stolen wear on stolen hangers, salt, raw coffee. During November and December appeared cans from the humanitarian aid, home-made stoves - furune, nylon for window protection. Silverware and tableware, irons and axes, arrived too. Home- based manufactures released some of the most demanded products: marmalades, mayonnaise, cakes, pies, pastries...
Money and prices
Yugoslav money was in official circulation until April 1992. The same one, only with the seal of the People’s Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina functioned until December, for the country was without both paper and money. Since the new money for the Bosnian government printed in England cannot reach Sarajevo safely, bonds were printed in size of two tram tickets: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 Dinars, all in different colors. The first four bank notes, when used alone, are worth nothing. The lowest prices are those of bread and newspapers.
One Deutsche Mark, which is the basic value for anything that is worth anything, officially counted for 550 Dinars of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the same time, and on the black market, its value was 1200-1300 Dinars. The rest of the currency is measured against the DM, but is worth much less. The dollar is despised, and can barely be exchanged. Exchange functions only between the citizens of Sarajevo. Foreigners don’t need to deal with it, for everything for them is paid. The biggest problem is how to change a bank note of 100 DM. You should have change - that you can use in the Holiday Inn, in the Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the black market.
There is something new on the market of values. Papers: letters of guarantee, accreditation, military approval for leave of absence, a doctor’s receipt that one is deadly ill, false documents of all kinds... Prices of these papers are between 100 and 300 DM, which is merely a matter of agreement. By now the poor DM is quite inflated.
200 DM for 1 cubic mater of wood, but you have to pay 50 DM more for the delivery.
170 DM for a bottle of whiskey, or of French cognac.
120 DM for a kilo of garlic.
100 DM for a hare (white, weighing about 3 kilos), or 1 kilo of dried meat.
40 DM - for this you can get 10 packs of cigarettes, or 1 liter of oil, or 1 kilo of beans, or
children’s bicycle, or 1 can of fish and 1 can of pate, or 1 lunch package, or half a kilo of tobacco.
30 DM for a wool sweater (hand made) or 1 jar of fat.
20 DM for 1 kilo of onions, or 2 kilos of cabbage, or a big pumpkin.
10 DM is the price of four batteries of 1,5 V, or of 5 liters of water - at all times except the summer.
Then the price of 5 liters of water raises to 30 DM.
3 DM for a chocolate bar, or a bunch of parsley. A circular saw is worth as much as seven kilos onions. One liter of milk is between 2,5 and 5 DM, but can be gotten for a pack of cigarettes. This is the best exchange between babies and smokers known in history.
What functions best is bartering. For two kilos of raw coffee, you can get a propane gas bottle of 12 kilos. A package of antibiotics is worth two local phone-calls. For a liter of cooking oil you can get a carton of cigarettes and a liter of cheap liquor, or three liters of cherry-syrup. For two liters of oil you can wear almost new Reeboks. A used male winter jacket costs 3 kilos of onions. A once-standard package of 18 kilos of paint is being exchanged for any kind and amount of food. 10 liters of oil, the amount which supplies energy for the two-hour shooting of a TV broadcast about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is exchanged for 12 cans which supply energy for your private survival.
In handwritten ads on Tito’s street, one finds supply and demand ranging from gas stoves, jackets, shoes to messages such is this: “I am looking for a woman to help me survive the winter.”
All through the siege the city markets were operating. There one could buy all sorts of edible and less edible plants and homegrown teas. Also the humanitarian aid was sold and traded there, like “Truman eggs” (the powdered eggs which had been stored since WW II), cigarettes, etc. The markets were the aggressors’ favorite target and a great number of Sarajevo citizens got killed or maimed there. There has not been a single market in Sarajevo which was not the sight of a massacre. The markets were the only places where Sarajevans could buy some food. Late in the summer of 1995 some protected street-corners were promoted into markets.